American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, August 18th
(All times Eastern)
Minnesota Twins (50-68) at Seattle Mariners (56-64), 9:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Minnesota - Scott Diamond (10-5, 2.97)
Seattle - Jason Vargas (13-8, 3.56)
(Sports Network) - The Mariners will try to make it four wins in a row as they
host the Minnesota Twins for the second part of their three-game set at Safeco
Seattle took the last two games of its series with Tampa Bay before downing
Minnesota, 5-3, in the opening game of the series. John Jaso and Miguel Oliva
homered to lift the Mariners in Friday's win.
The Mariners have been tough to beat at Safeco Field as they have won 10 of
their last 11 home games. They have also been victorious in five of their last
A lack of offensive production has been plaguing Seattle all season long,
however the recent surge from the pitching staff has helped the Mariners
string together some wins.
The Mariners starting pitching in their previous two games featured Felix
Hernandez throwing a perfect game on Thursday, followed by Hisashi Iwakuma
tossing seven outstanding innings on Friday. Jason Vargas will take the hill
for the Mariners with the intent of riding the wave of success.
Vargas has been untouchable lately, going 6-1 with a 1.64 ERA over his past
eight starts. The left-hander added another win onto his impressive season on
Sunday by holding the Angels to one run over 8 1/3 innings.
"He obviously threw a great game," Angels slugger Albert Pujols said after
Sunday's game. "He kept the ball down, he didn't make too many mistakes and
that's pretty much it. He made his pitch when he needed to. Obviously we
probably swung at some balls out of the strike zone, including myself. But
he's a competitor, man. That's why he's so good -- he doesn't have to be
overpowering. He just knows how to pitch, and you have to give those guys
Vargas gave up only one run over 6 1/3 innings in his first meeting with
Minnesota this season but did not get a decision.
The Twins will counter with their most reliable pitcher. Scott Diamond threw a
quality start for the fourth time in a row when he surrendered eight hits and
three runs while striking out six Tampa Bay batters in Sunday's 7-3 loss to
the Rays. He showed mental toughness in that loss by managing to recover from
a shaky start.
Diamond is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA over that four-game span and 10-5 for the
season with a 2.97 ERA.
The Twins produced two runs on consecutive homers by Joe Mauer and Josh
Willingham late in Friday's loss. Minnesota's manager Ron Gardenhire knows his
team will need to produce more today against Vargas.
"Offensively, we didn't do much," Gardenhire said. "We had a couple of home
runs back-to-back, which kind of got us into the ballgame and made it
interesting. But as you saw, a pretty good closer there. He threw the living
fire out of the ball."
Willingham leads Minnesota with 31 home runs and 89 RBI, but he is 0-for-14
with seven strikeouts in his career versus Vargas. Mauer, who has a team-best
.322 batting average, is 3-for-8 with a double and two walks against the
Seattle took two of three from the Twins earlier this year.
08/18 10:35:19 ET